Sunday, 10 May 2015

Dover - and over again

Who hasn’t seen or at least heard about the famous white cliffs of Dover…? Incredibly bright-colored they come up at our starboard side in the morning as we approach the port.
Nevertheless, it seems that our guests do not appreciate the view overly much. Well, you can’t blame them for that - they are leaving. After ten days of nature’s sheer beauty, after so many wonderful landings in amazing fjords, after hikes and fruit walks and museum visits and stave churches and boat rides and, and, and…
So many memories!
Yes, it is a sad thing to leave, but many do so with the promise to come with us to a different place in the future. That is a nice thing to hear, as it means that we managed to get people happy. 
So the atmosphere is serene when we go to pier in Dover, right opposite the old train station that was decommissioned in 1994, after the Eurotunnel was built.
Squadrons of porters take care of the luggage, and then it is time to say good-bye to our very nice and charming group.
The layover is a really short one, already at 10am the “newbies” are arriving, although the term is not fully applicable, as there are so many repeaters and quite a few agents from various offices. All in all only 64 people join us today for something very special: A Whiskey Cruise.
During the two day transfer to Bergen in Norway we travel with Bernhard McGee, a true Scotsman and professional whiskey expert. He will teach the guests everything there is to know about enjoying a very good drop the proper way.
Speaking of good drops: Having someone on board who is so proficient with high energy spirits calls for a check-up on our latest liquor project - the FRAM adventure calvados. October last year we visited the town of Brest on the Brittany coast of western France, and we hauled a huge barrel of the finest calvados from Normandy on deck, where it started a journey that no other calvados has ever undertaken: Only after the barrel has crossed the four lines - both Polar Circles, the Equator and 80 degrees North - will we start to sell our Expedition Calvados, which by then is certainly among the most exclusive brown liquids in the world.
To ensure the quality of it we take a sample which is then entrusted to Bernard McGee and his infallible nose. We are curious what he has to say about it.
The weather is treating us extremely well, the ocean is flat calm, and with great expectations and not the slightest bit of sea sickness everybody assembles in the panorama lounge to Bernie’s first round of whisky workshop.
It is safe to say that whisky is many people's friend. It is a rare occasion, however, that a barrel of 25-year-old Highland Single Malt is waltzing around the ship on its own two (quite long) legs, befriending our guests in a very personal way - but this is exactly what happened.